A reader writes:
I am curious to know what the message is to back-up candidates while a the company is waiting for someone to respond to a job offer. I was told that a decision would be made late last week, and I recently received an update that it will be another week and a half.
I know that there are only 2 other candidates up for the job, and I'm pretty sure the decision will be made by 3 people who are in the same department and work together daily. This makes me think that they have already made a decision and made the offer, and I'm in a back-up candidate in case their first choice declines. Are my instincts right or am I overanalyzing? How do hiring managers typically communicate with "alternates" in this stage of the game?
Heh. Well, that was exactly what I used to do when someone was a back-up candidate, until it occurred to me to build a buffer into the timelines I was giving people.
But let me tell you, there is no shame in being a back-up candidate. In this economy, it's not unusual for me to end up with three back-up candidates of stellar quality, any one of whom I'd be excited to hire.
On the other hand, it's also possible that it doesn't indicate that you are a back-up candidate at all. It could indicate that their process is dragging out for some other reason -- it's taking a long time to check someone's references, or the company moves really slowly on putting together offer paperwork, or their interview with one of the other candidates got delayed, or the person who has to sign off on the final decision is on vacation, or whatever. So you definitely can't take it as anything certain -- more just as fodder for speculation.